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Invisible and Visible Bridges

When I drive, I often don’t know when the straight asphalt surface skims over a waterway beneath me. The road ahead looks normal, but it actually takes me from one edge of a body of water to the other side, while I’m completely unaware of having been on a bridge at all. In Venice, Italy,…

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Keep Dismay Away

My heart aches when I hear or read about current wars. When I see the homeless folks on our streets, I feel sad, almost hopeless. For the people I love and myself, aging is difficult. Some friends and family dwell on both personal and political catastrophes with non-stop complaining and blaming. In spite of their…

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A Dentist’s Kinky Secret

Last Thursday, much to my surprise, I saw one of my body’s nerves. I never dreamed such a thing could happen. I’d studied and taught anatomy and enjoyed viewing exhibitions that showed full-sized cross-sections of human anatomy. Some displays isolated the nervous system, so I’d been aware of nerves’ appearances for many years. However, my…

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Glacial Milk

Rowing across a large freshwater lake at the foot of Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, strong headwinds blow us backwards. The glacier’s enormity spawns unique weather around it. The frigid expanse meets warmer air above it and creates a whirling tempest over the water. Melting ice mixes with ground-up rock, pulverized by the slow-moving behemoth. Hundreds…

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Not Chosen

I wasn’t chosen.  At the neighborhood shopping center, I saw a scruffy man glance at me. I thought nothing of it. I slowed for a plump middle-aged woman in front of me, who’d stopped to rummage through her grocery cart. Once past her, I resumed my long strides, shoulders back, arms swinging. In the breeze…

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Loving Diversity

I’ve never understood why I’ve always enjoyed living in the midst of diverse cultures. In my youth, bored in my suburban white high school, I transferred into an almost all black and Asian inner city school. I loved dwelling in the midst of the new social richness. As an adult, I’ve lived in Hawaii for…

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Ego

I’ve known a work colleague and his wife, David and Sally, for thirty years. I’d always considered them both to be boring. Recently, I became aware that, for all these years, I’d been silently criticizing David as not doing his job very well.  If only he’d do X or Y, he’d do so much better,…

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Holding My Breath

Driving over the Ko’olau mountains on Oahu with a guest from Europe, we came to the Tetsuo Harano tunnel and I felt the old childhood impulse to hold my breath. All my youthful friends and neighbors adhered to this custom, so I assumed it was a common practice. I asked my friend if she and…

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Spontaneous Acts of Kindness

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu As I stroll on a city sidewalk, I see a young mother gently instruct her two-year-old to move over, to make room for me on the walkway. I say a heartfelt,…

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Human Story Lines

When I meet someone, their attitudes and assumptions often reveal underlying themes that define them. The most common personal script is: “Here’s how important I am.” Each time I visit my cousin, she shows off her five boats to me, a non-boat-owner. Another popular self-concept is: “I know best and others should copy me.” An…

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Refrigerator Angel

One day a few years ago, my oversized and ancient refrigerator, inherited when I moved into a thirty-year old condo, exhaled one last cold breath and died. I read on Google that this type of machine, with its motor balanced on top, required special handling. I quizzed the movers that I interviewed as to whether…

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My Favorite Illusions

In college, I took a class on Buddhism and I learned, for the first time, that I needed to discover the illusions that ruled my life. I remember thinking, What are they talking about? I don’t have any delusions. Life is straightforward. I work to earn my way through college. That’s it. I conveniently ignored…

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